Supreme Court refuses to stay law on CEC, EC appointment

Why in news?

The Supreme Court declined to issue any temporary orders halting the implementation of a new law regarding the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners.


  • Recently, the President of India had given her assent to the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill 2023.
  • The bill intended to establish a mechanism to appoint the top election officials in the country and to repeal the 1991 Act.


GS-02 (Government policies and interventions, Judiciary, Parliament)

Key Provisions of the Act:

  • Replacement of Previous Act: The legislation supersedes the 1991 Election Commission Act, concentrating on the appointment, pay, and termination of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs).
  • Appointment Process:
    • The President appoints the CEC and ECs upon the Selection Committee’s recommendation.
    • The Committee includes the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition or the largest opposition party’s leader in the Lok Sabha.
    • Recommendations remain valid during committee vacancies.
    • A Search Committee, led by the Cabinet Secretary, proposes candidates.
    • Eligibility requires experience equivalent to a central government Secretary.
  • Salary and Conditions: The CEC and ECs will now receive remuneration and service conditions comparable to the Cabinet Secretary, contrasting with the prior alignment with a Supreme Court Judge’s salary.
  • Removal Process:
    • The law maintains Article 324(5), permitting the CEC’s removal akin to a Supreme Court Judge.
    • ECs can only be removed with the CEC’s recommendation.
  • Protection for CEC and ECs: The legislation shields the CEC and ECs from legal actions related to their official duties during their tenure, safeguarding them from civil or criminal proceedings.
  • Aim of Amendment: The amendment aims to safeguard these officials from legal repercussions tied to their official functions, ensuring their effectiveness and independence.

The provisions before the new law for appointing CEC and ECs:

About ECI:

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) functions as an independent constitutional body tasked with overseeing both Union and State election processes throughout India.
  • Established on January 25, 1950 (observed as National Voters’ Day), it operates from its headquarters in New Delhi.
  • It is responsible for managing elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, as well as the offices of the President and Vice President.
  • The ECI does not handle elections for panchayats and municipalities. Instead, the Constitution mandates the existence of distinct State Election Commissions for this purpose.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Part XV (Elections) of the Constitution encompasses only five Articles (324-329), without specifying a legislative process for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs).
  • Article 324 grants the Election Commission authority over elections, comprising the CEC and additional ECs as deemed necessary by the President.
  • The President appoints them based on advice from the Union Council of Ministers, led by the Prime Minister.
  • The Law Minister suggests suitable candidates to the Prime Minister, who advises the President on the appointment.


  • They can resign at any time or be removed before their term expires.
  • The CEC can only be removed through a process similar to that of a Supreme Court judge, involving Parliament.
  • Any other EC can only be removed upon the recommendation of the CEC.